1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Cesagen · People

Professor Adam Hedgecoe

Cesagen Associate Director


029 2087 0027






10 Museum Place, Cardiff University


Adam is leader of the Biomedicine, Identity and Behaviour Theme at Cesagen and is building on the considerable work that has already been carried out on psychiatric genomics by developing the current planned research programme in cardiac genetics, as well as a project looking at the clinical pharmacogenetics of asthma, and research on the growing personal genomics industry.

Adam is a Sociologist of science and technology, with a Ph.D. from the Department of Science and Technology Studies, at University College London. He originally trained as a bioethicist and has worked for the technology assessment units of both the European and British Parliaments. He has also carried out research on a European Union funded project into the ethics of genetic screening, as well as consultancy for a number of organisations including the OECD.


(2009) Bioethics and the Reinforcement of Socio-technical Expectations Social Studies of Science 40/2: 163-186.

(2009) “A form of Practical Machinery”: The origins of Research Ethics Committees in the UK: 1967-1972 Medical History 53: 331-350.

(2009) 'Geneticization: Debates and Controversies' in W. Bynum (ed) The Encyclopedia of the Human Genome. Wiley.

(2008) Research ethics review and the Sociological research relationship Sociology 42(5): 857-870.

(2008) From resistance to usefulness: sociology and the clinical use of genetic tests Biosocieties 3: 183-194.

(2006) Pharmacogenetics as Alien Science: Alzheimer's Disease, Core Sets and Expectations Social Studies of Science 36/5: 723-752.

(2005) "At the point at which you can do something about it, then it becomes more relevant": informed consent in the pharmacogenetic clinic, Social Science and Medicine 61(6): 1201-1210.

(2004) The Politics of Personalised Medicine - Pharmacogenetics in the Clinic Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(2004) Critical Bioethics: beyond the Social science critique of Applied Ethics, Bioethics, 18(2): 120-143.

(2003) Terminology and the construction of scientific disciplines: the case of pharmacogenomics Science, Technology and Human Values 28(4): 513-37.

with Paul Martin (2003) The drugs don't work: expectations and the shaping of pharmacogenetics, Social Studies of Science, 33(3): 327-364.

(2001) Schizophrenia And the Narrative of Enlightened Geneticization, Social Studies of Science, 31(6): 875-911.

(1999) Transforming Genes: metaphors of information and language in modern genetics Science as Culture, 8(2): 209-229.

(1998) Geneticization, medicalisation and polemics Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy: A European Journal, 1(3): 235-243.

(1996) Genetic Catch-22: Testing, Risk and Private Health Insurance Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 15(2): 69-86

Research Interests

My research is at the intersection of the sociology of science, medical sociology and bioethics, although I regard myself as an 'STS-er'. I have two main areas of interest. The first is the impact of genetic testing on professional practice. Following on from MA research which explored the impact of genetic testing on health insurance and the use of linguistic metaphors in genetics, my Ph.D. investigated the topic of geneticization. This term describes the increased use of genetic explanations in both medical practice and broader society. Differing from conventional usage, I sought to root this concept in empirical sociological research, resulting in a number of theoretical papers, as well as articles presenting the results of my three case studies: Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, and Schizophrenia.

In my Wellcome Trust funded postdoc fellowship, I explored the developing technology of pharmacogenetics (the use of genetic testing to help decide how to prescribe drugs), looking at how it impacts on professional practice and in turn how the technology itself is reshaped by clinical concerns. This project has produced a number of publications including articles looking at the terminology surrounding pharmacogenetics, the role of informed consent in the clinical application of pharmacogenetics, debates over what does and doesn't count as a pharmacogenetic 'result', and (with Paul Martin) the expectations being generated around this technology. This research is also the basis for my book, which won the BSA MedSoc Sociology of Health and Illness Book of the Year 2005 and the BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2006. I was also lead author on a briefing for policymakers on the social and ethical issues around pharmacogenetics.

My second area of interest is in Sociology & Bioethics. A spin-off from my Ph.D. research is an awareness of the tension between traditional, philosophically-based bioethics, and the social sciences. I am interested in this in terms of the how the social sciences can contribute to bioethical reasoning, something I have called 'critical bioethics', and which I have applied to some of my work on pharmacogenetics as well as looking at the way empirical data on health care rationing can be used in bioethical reasoning. I am also interested in the sociology of bioethics itself . This is the basis for my most recent grant, a three-year European Commission funded 6th Framework project (2004-2007) comparing research ethics committees (RECs) in four European countries, and the impact of the Clinical Trials Directive. This research has lead to a series of writing projects, including a comparative study of ethics regulatory systems, a UK-specific study (including how RECs deal with social science research) and a detailed institutional history of the UK REC system.